Prof. Dr. Brandon Dotson

Bild von Brandon Dotson

Internationales Kolleg für Geisteswissenschaftliche Forschung "Schicksal, Freiheit und Prognose. Bewältigungsstrategien in Ostasien und Europa"

Home Institution: Georgetown University, Department of Theology

IKGF Visiting Fellow September 2015 - July 2016

IKGF Visiting Fellow June 2017 - July 2017

IKGF Research Project

Divination, Fortune, and Kingship in Tibet

Curriculum vitae

Brandon Dotson has worked and taught at Oxford University, the School of Oriental and African Studies, the University of California at Santa Barbara, and LMU München. His research on ritual, history, narrative, and text has taken him to Nepal, Tibet, and China. Dotson’s PhD thesis (2007) is a study of Tibet’s earliest extant corpus iuris, and his first monograph (2009) is a translation and study of Tibet’s earliest historical and bureaucratic record, the Old Tibetan Annals. His postdoctoral research focused on the origins of Tibetan historical narrative and its relationship with ritual narrative, including divination. The results of this research include an annotated translation of the Old Tibetan Chronicle, Tibet’s first and only chronicle epic, which formed the basis of Dotson’s Habilitationsschrift at LMU München in 2013.

From 2010 to 2015, Dotson directed the “Kingship and Religion in Tibet” research project with the support of a Sofja Kovalevskaja Award from the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation. Based at the Institute for Indology and Tibetology at LMU München, the project included thirteen researchers over the course of five years, and focused on the nature of Tibetan kingship as described in the earliest sources; on the place of Buddhism within the context of royal and popular religious practices; and on the place of kingship within Tibetan religious memory. Dotson’s current research additionally emphasizes codicology and manuscript studies, particularly as regards the production of Buddhist sutras by Chinese scribes and editors in Tibetan-occupied Dunhuang; early Tibetan law and jurisprudence; divination, ritual, and hunting; and the relationship between ritual and narrative in Tibetan religious historiography.

Selected Publications


2016 (with Agnieszka Helman-Wazny) Codicology, Paleography, and Orthography of Early Tibetan Documents: Methods and a Case Study. (Wiener Studien zur Tibetologie und Buddhismuskunde 89.) Vienna: Arbeitskreis für Tibetische und Buddhistische Studien, Universität Wien.
2009 The Old Tibetan Annals: an Annotated Translation of Tibet’s First History. With an Annotated Cartographical Documentation by Guntram Hazod. Vienna: Austrian Academy of Sciences Press. (Currently being translated into Chinese for publication by the Chinese Academy of Sciences, Shanghai.)

Books edited

2013 Scribes, Texts, and Rituals in Early Tibet and Dunhuang. Wiesbaden: Reichert Verlag. Co-edited with Kazushi Iwao and Tsuguhito Takeuchi.
2009 Contemporary Visions in Tibetan Studies. Chicago: Serindia Publications. Co-edited with Kalsang Norbu Gurung, Georgios Halkias, and Tim Myatt.
2007 Contributions to the Cultural History of Early Tibet. Leiden: Brill. Co-edited with Matthew T. Kapstein.


2015 “The call of the cuckoo to the thin sheep of spring: healing and fortune in Old Tibetan dice divination texts.” In Ramble, Charles and Ulrike Roesler, eds., Tibetan and Himalayan Healing: An Anthology for Anthony Aris. Kathmandu: Vajra Publications, 148–60.
2015 “Failed prototypes: foliation and numbering in ninth-century Tibetan Śatasāhasrikā-prajñāpāramitā-sūtras.” Journal Asiatique 303.1: 153–64.
2015 “Popular wisdom in the margins of the Perfection of Wisdom: on the structure and date of Tibet’s oldest collection of proverbs.” In Czaja, Olaf and Guntram Hazod, eds., The Illuminating Mirror: Festschrift for Per K. Sørensen on the Occasion of his 65th Birthday. Wiesbaden: Reichert Verlag, 119–30.
2015 “Introducing early Tibetan law: codes and cases.” In Schuh, Dieter, ed., Secular Law and Order in the Tibetan Highland. (Monumenta Tibetica Historica Abteilung III Band 13.) Andiast: International Institute for Tibetan and Buddhist Studies, 267–314.
2013-2014 “The remains of the Dharma: editing, rejecting, and replacing the Buddha’s words in officially commissioned sūtras from Dunhuang, 820s to 840s.” Journal of the International Association of Buddhist Studies 36-37: 5–68.
2013 “The princess and the yak: the hunt as narrative trope and historical reality.” In Dotson, Brandon, Kazushi Iwao, and Tsuguhito Takeuchi, eds., Scribes, Texts, and Rituals in Early Tibet and Dunhuang. Wiesbaden: Reichert Verlag, 61–85.
2013 “The dead and their stories: preliminary remarks on the place of narrative in Tibetan religion.” In Cüppers, Cristoph, Rob Mayer, and Michael Walter, eds., Tibet after Empire: Culture, Society and Religion between 850-1000. Lumbini: Lumbini International Research Institute, 51–83.
2013 “The unhappy bride and her lament.” Journal of the International Association for Bon Research 1: 199–225.
2013 “Warlords Versus True Kings,” 41–43; “The Conquests and Institutes of Songtsen Gampo,” 44–46; “The Old Tibetan Annals,” 47–52; and “Tibetan Law,” 87–95. In Schaeffer, Kurtis, Matthew T. Kapstein, and Gray Tuttle, eds., Sources of Tibetan Tradition. New York: Columbia University Press.
2012 “At the behest of the mountain: gods, clans and political topography in post-imperial Tibet.” In Scherrer-Schaub, Cristina A., ed., Old Tibetan Studies Dedicated to the Memory of Professor Ronald E. Emmerick (1937–2001). Leiden: Brill, 157–202.
2011 “Sources for the Old Tibetan Chronicle: a fragment from the non-extant Chronicle pothī.” In Imaeda, Yoshiro, Matthew T. Kapstein, and Tsuguhito Takeuchi, eds., New Studies of the Old Tibetan Documents: Philology, History and Religion. Tokyo: Institute for the Languages and Cultures of Africa and Asia, 231–44.
2011 “On the Old Tibetan term khrin in the legal and ritual lexicons.” In Turin, Mark and Bettina Zeisler, eds., Himalayan Languages and Linguistics: Studies in Phonology, Semantics, Morphology and Syntax. Leiden: Brill, 77–97.
2011 “Theorising the king: implicit and explicit sources for the study of Tibetan sacred kingship.” Revue d’Etudes Tibétaines 21: 83–103.
2009 “The ‘nephew–uncle’ relationship in the international diplomacy of the Tibetan Empire (7th—9th centuries).” In Dotson, Brandon, et al., eds., Contemporary Visions in Tibetan Studies.Chicago: Serindia Publications, 223–38. (Later anthologized in Mullard, Saul, ed., Critical Readings on the History of Tibetan Foreign Relations. Volume One: Early and Imperial Foreign Relations. Leiden: Brill, 41–56.)
2008 “Complementarity and opposition in early Tibetan ritual.” Journal of the American Oriental Society 128.1: 41–67.
2007 “Divination and law in the Tibetan Empire: the role of dice in the legislation of loans, interest, marital law and troop conscription.” In Kapstein, Matthew T. and Brandon Dotson, eds., Contributions to the Cultural History of Early Tibet. Leiden: Brill, 3–77.
2007 “‘Emperor’ Mu-rug-btsan and the ’Phang thang ma Catalogue.” Journal of the International Association for Tibetan Studies 3: 1–25.
2004 “A note on zhang: maternal relatives of the Tibetan royal line.” Journal Asiatique 292.1–2: 75–99.